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A while back I had the idea of making a Halloween Advent Calendar, and I got busy this weekend (Sept 30 — nothing like planning ahead!) and did it, start to finish. I wanted to surprise my daughter and her husband with it, because they’re pretty into Halloween, and they usually come over for brunch on Sundays. Okay, so they didn’t get it until October 2. Still a Halloween miracle.

goodman-illustration

Here’s how I went about it.

  • Day one Sept 30: With David’s help I wrote a list of 31 Halloween related images, one for each day of October. It wasn’t easy coming up with the last 5 or 6.
  • I creased a brown paper grocery sack into 36 squares (6 rows of 6). This gave me a couple extra boxes in case I screwed up.
  • I sat down at the coffee table with a pencil and sketched a picture in each square. I went with mice, since I can draw them pretty fast, they’re a rather “forgiving” creature.
    haladvent1
  • Next, I headed down to my art kitchen and listened to several podcasts and comedy recordings while furiously coloring with Prismacolors. I love my electric pencil sharpener. My rate was about five 1.5×1.5″ pictures per hour, so it took 6 hours to do the coloring. (Thank you Patton Oswald, Mitch Hedberg (yes, I know you’re dead), Danielle Krysa and “Sawbones.” You could spend a lot less time and still make something fun!
  • Went back up to the office and scanned my little pics. (If you’re only making one, you could just use the originals and use real life cut and paste skills instead of a computer.)mouse
  • Day two: Found a picture of a spooky looking house and sized it (in InDesign) to fit my final calendar, then printed a reduced version of it on 8.5×11. (easier to draw and scan than actual size)
  • On tracing paper, I semi-traced, semi-reimagined the house image lightly with pencil, planning in 31 window spaces. Then I inked it with India ink and some messy washes. (I was short on time, but I’m cool with the way my super-fast house came out.)
    house-ink
  • I would have scanned my house drawing, but who has time for India ink to dry? So I took a photo of it with my phone and placed it in an InDesign document, sizing it to fit my final calendar sheet. (I added a brown paper texture and green tint in PhotoShop.)
  • Next, in InDesign, I sized and placed my little brown bag illustrations on top of the windows in the house drawing, bearing in mind I wanted my illustrations just slightly larger than my windows.
  • After I had them where I liked, I duplicated that “guide” page in the InDesign doc twice, so I had 3 copies in all.
  • On copy 1 of the page, I kept the little illustrations, but deleted the house.
  • On copy 2, I deleted the little illustrations, kept the house, and placed the numbers 1-31 on the windows.
  • I kept my original page (copy 3), with both the house and the little illustrations, to print as a cutting guide.
  • Finally, I printed all three pages, one to be the outside of the house, one to be the illustrations that are seen when the windows are opened, and one that I made into a cutting guide so I could get the window slits in just the right places without marking up my house. I printed two different sizes. I checked my placement on a small printout before using our fancy 13×19 printer.
  • I made a cutting guide for each size of calendar. On it, I decided how the windows would open, (left, right, up or down) and marked the appropriate 3 edges with a contrasting Sharpie (now I can re-use the jig without stopping to think about each cut).IMG_8595
  • I placed the cutting guide over my final house page and taped it to the cutting mat so it wouldn’t move while I was cutting. It goes faster if you cut all the lines in one direction first, then go back and do all the perpendicular lines.
  • Finally, I used double stick tape to adhere “illustration” page to the “house with windows” page, and punched some holes to hang it with. (Obviously, I only put the sticky tape in areas where there weren’t any windows.)done

Boom! It’s a Hallowadvent calendar. If you want me to make you one of these, hit up my “cute stuff” Etsy shop, Goodwerks. It’s OK if it doesn’t get delivered on Oct. 1, because you get the fun of opening more windows when it arrives!

Happy October!

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I’ve been helping my friend Chrysti the Wordsmith expand her social presence. Chrysti is a beloved personality in Montana (and elsewhere), where her 2-minute etymological discussions are as well-known to public radio listeners as StarDate and Writer’s Almanac.

Chrysti’s motivation wasn’t to make more money or grow her audience, oddly enough. It was simply to help her existing followers enjoy resources she has already created, by leading them to her website.

One of our strategies was to create a series of cartoons based on her radio transcripts. Knowing that seasonal and topical images tend to get a lot of viral play on Facebook, and that tagged images draw a lot of site views, this seemed like a simple way to increase awareness of Chrysti’s web site.

Here are a couple examples of the cartoons that I drew in Photoshop using my Cintiq. Eventually, we will have enough images to make a little e-book, which we can also use to promote Chrysti’s site.

Chrysti is a great example of the kind of client I love to work with: out there doing something worthwhile, being smart and having fun. And as for me… there’s nothing more fun than drawing cartoons!

Me Hearties cartoon by Marla Goodmancobweb cartoon by Marla GoodmanWordsmith-Limerick cartoon by Marla GoodmanWordsmith-Cornucopia cartoon by Marla GoodmanWordsmith-Robin cartoon by Marla GoodmanWordsmith ladybug cartoon by Marla GoodmanWordsmith-Dandelion cartoon by Marla Goodman

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